EL PASO, Texas - An El Paso woman grew up in the same neighborhood as actress Debbie Reynolds, attended the same church and had the honor of meeting the actress after she became a big Hollywood star.
Reynolds died Wednesday at the age of 84.
Northeast El Pasoan Mildred Ryan is 97 years old, but her memory is as sharp as it gets and she had a vivid recollection of meeting Reynolds in El Paso 65 years ago.
"Her grandmother baby sat for me some," said Ryan, who told ABC-7 she moved to El Paso in 1942, shortly after Reynolds had moved out of her neighborhood.
Ryan knew the famous actress's family well. "My children were small and I had to have a baby sitter when I had to do something, so Miss Harmon would babysit for me. They were very poor people and I used to pay the grandmother for babysitting for me and she was glad to get it you know. They weren't well to do people."
Ryan was surprised when the Hollywood star showed up in El Paso shortly after starring in "Singing in the Rain."
"One Wednesday night in prayer meeting," she said, "Debbie Reynolds came in and had prayer meeting with us."
Ryan said Reynolds came back to El Paso in the early 1950's, after she became a star, and visited her old Church of the Nazerene, now a Spanish church, located on the corner of Raynor and Yandell.
"I just remember her opening the door and coming and looking around and seeing who it was how shocked we all were," Ryan said. "And we all said, 'welcome' and she said "thank you' and came in and joined the crowd. She was a very pretty girl."
Ryan was saddened by Reynold's sudden death. "I feel like she had a good life," she said. "But it's sad for her and her daughter to pass away together like that so quick."
Ryan told ABC-7 she is most saddened for the Reynolds and Fisher families, plus the fact that she no longer is able to attend First Nazerene Church, now located off of Alabama Street.